Expatica news

Radio station abandons bus plan

13 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Radio station 538 has abandoned plans to use a fleet of private buses to bring stranded passengers to work from Utrecht during Thursday’s national transport strike.

The popular broadcaster took the decision following negative reactions from unions and concerns about safety, newspaper De Telegraaf reported late on Wednesday.

The station had urged bus drivers and bus companies on Wednesday morning to report to the radio station to assist in its operation. The buses were to leave from Utrecht and travel to Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam.

The station told listeners to assemble at 8am at the Jaarbeursplein in Utrecht, where they can board buses to their various destinations. The commuters will then be transported back to Utrecht at the end of the day.

Now the plan has been abandoned there will be no buses to meet people at Utrecht.

A spokeswoman from the commercial radio station had said earlier that several bus companies and drivers had spontaneously offered their services on Wednesday morning, prompting the free bus operation.

“And we are also going to hire buses to help people. Because that’s what it’s all about for us; helping people who, for example, cannot get to work,” she told news agency ANP.

Dutch trade unions have called the nationwide strike in protest against the Cabinet’s budget cuts. Trains and regional buses are not expected to operate from 5am Thursday to 2am Friday, affecting also international trains.

City transport in Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen and Maastricht will also be shut down. City transport in Amsterdam and The Hague will operate as per usual.

Radio 538 estimated that about 10 to 15 buses would be deployed, admitting that it was hard to assemble a lot of buses due to the fact many drivers were going on strike. It said the number of available buses would be quite small given the extent of the strike. The cost of the operation was estimated at a few thousand euros.

The spokeswoman also told Expatica she did not expect problems if there were not enough buses for people who turned up in Utrecht, saying if there were not enough, than that would simply be “tough luck”. She said Thursday would be chaos anyway, so what would it matter if there was a little bit more.

Free daily newspaper Spits was to cooperate with the 538 action and was to distribute papers to passengers boarding the radio station’s buses.

The newspaper — published by newspaper De Telegraaf — will publish 300,000 copies on Thursday, instead of the usual 410,000. Rival free daily Metro will publish 120,000 instead of its usual 395,000. Both newspapers will be available at NS rail stations.

Meanwhile, radio broadcasters Noordzee 100.7 FM and Radio 10 Gold will use a traffic helicopter on Thursday to give half-hourly reports on the traffic situation.

Talpa Radio owner Erik Zwart said both stations wanted to assist people hit by the public transport strike and broadcast the most up-to-date traffic information. Talpa Radio owns both Noordzee and Radio Gold.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news